Famed Victories Of The Sky!

By Jim Rossignol on June 17th, 2009 at 10:46 pm.


Thanks to everyone who turned up for Air Buccaneers this evening, it was a lighter-than-air riot. We’re going to do it again next Saturday at 7pm UK time, until we are defeated. More ruminations on this evening’s events below, along with some tips for anyone intending to come along at the weekend.


First up, thanks to Craig at PC Gamer UK for sorting out the server. Second up, if you haven’t played Air Buccaneers before and want to come along, please do have a read of the website and play the in-game tutorial. It’s not a hard game to get to grips with, but procedures like loading and firing the cannons, and the principles of flying the balloon, aren’t entirely obvious. To avoid early frustrating it’s worth familiarising yourself with the key concepts. Also remember to hit the spacebar if you fall, it’ll grapple you onto the balloon – ideal for mad boarding actions.

And then you can get involved in giantic balloon battles in beautifully bleak places. Like this:

I’d forgotten how ludicrously characterful the game is. The strange tale of abandoned tribes and mushroom gods, and a war fought via hot air-balloon. It’s filled with entertaining ideas: aerial mines that are fired by rocket, only to hang in the sky, waiting for a victim. Or the rocket propelled glider that takes you up the critical central “battleship” balloon, that is often the focus of any single battle.

The game itself is an interesting tension between slow-moving aircraft, and the fast paced melee/explosives combat. Watching people leap from one balloon to another, only to miss, grapple the underside of the ship, fight on deck, fall again, and up in a sword battle dangling from the bottom of an airship, really is quite something to behold. i was watching one battle where one of our pilots was fighting two enemies, hanging from the bottom of the ship on a grapple, as we bombarded the ship with cannons. He killed one, died, and then the battleship went down in flames. Heroic.

Not to mention plunging to your death is always amusing punctuation between the slow maneuvering of the balloons. The wind, it seems, is a jerk. Surviving a fall and getting back to the safety of your base without getting eaten by a mushroom is also a rather unique gaming experience. Anyway, if you’ve never played Air Buccaneers, and fancy a crack at some absurd sky piracy, join us on Saturday.

Huzzah!

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66 Comments »

  1. The_B says:

    I too enjoyed this immensely. Even when Jim snook up behind me to stick a sword in my back.

    I also turned out to be a surprisingly adept at piloting the ships after a few goes. Was awesome when I managed to literally park us right next to the enemy ship and we flamed them to their doom. Yarrr.

  2. Serondal says:

    If I recall you flame the enemy by just loading gun powder into the cannon or is there a special round you have to load?

  3. Hoshi says:

    I love you RPS

  4. Kemuel says:

    You load one of the gunpowder sack grenades in to a cannon and it becomes a flamethrower. Load two or three for better range.

    Its the best way for a little one-man craft to take down one of the big battleships.

  5. Nobody Important says:

    I’ll try to be there. I downloaded the mod when I read the last post, but I didn’t install it.

    Hmm, what time would that be in America, Central time…math error…subtract six…So, one in the afternoon.

  6. Serondal says:

    Can’t you load the air mines into the cannon and launch a shit load of them all at once?

  7. Kemuel says:

    You can load up to ten Airmines, and they become missiles which fire in little salvos of two. They’ve got the best range, but the worst damage, and when you’re pumping loads out you can adjust your aim to try and trace a target.

  8. Serondal says:

    Ah yes, it’s all coming back to me now ^_^ This is a good example of someone with a good idea and the ability and the tools to make it a reality.

  9. Benny says:

    I’m still downloading Ut2k4 from steam, crappy slow internet. :( Will hopefully get to fulfill sky pirate fantasy on sat :)

  10. Senethro says:

    I enjoyed this a lot and will surely be about on Thursday at 8pm ish for some more.

  11. Paul Moloney says:

    Damn, I’m in the middle of moving so can’t join any game for a few days (or the wife will kill me) – hopefully you play next week too.

    P.

  12. jarvoll says:

    I take it the mod works with Steam UT2004?

  13. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Good fun.

    Still not got the hang of grappling, half the time I feel it connect and then it looses go for some reason, and I’m probably not checking my targets sufficiently (apologies to my many unfortunate teammates), but I feel I know what I’m doing now.

  14. Serondal says:

    you were raised by puffins what can one expect?

  15. Kemuel says:

    @jarvoll

    It does work with Steam UT2k4, but you’ll want to download thr zipped version instead of the UMOD.

  16. KBKarma says:

    Oh HELL yes! I’ve mastered the one-man galleon hijack. And my brother shall be joining me: the man who managed to travel to the opposite end of the map by hijacking other people’s ships.

    Together, we are UNBEATABLE!

    … Probably. But I’ll be there.

  17. Arca says:

    Man this brings back old memories. I was one of the stand-ins/emergency players for a match against the devs. They got schooled, IIRC.

    Good times, good times. I might dig out 2k4 just for this weekend.

    One thing you really want to avoid though is surviving a fall onto neutral land. You’ll get mobbed by these weird mushrooms of death. D: AND THERE IS NO ESCAPE.

  18. Nilocy says:

    I’ve played this ona friends PC and i enjoyed it alot with lan, and that was only 6 players. I cant imagine how epic these games will be. I might just go buy UT 2004 from Gog right now.

  19. Sonic Goo says:

    I wonder what happened to the guys who made this? The mod seems pretty good, but it’s not that well known…

  20. Stromko says:

    The server’s still up btw, I imagine it’ll be up until saturday unless the PCGamer crew wants to shut it down and just bring it up again saturday. I’ve been playing with 3 – 4 other players for the last several hours.

    It’s actually a good game even with few players. 4 players is much more interesting than just 2 players, which itself is much more interesting than playing it solo, but the more the better. We’ve had to be jacks of all trades with only 2 players per battleship, scuppering around taking turns at the helm and manning the guns, often we’re just taking separate skiffs and running the whole thing ourselves, but there’s a lot of action to it even with 2 players per team.

    It’ll be a whole new game with a lot of players though, there’s many roles to fill. You’ve got the pilots, the gunners, the loaders of course, but also there’s a need for spotters, rocketeers and their counter, musketeers who can counter both mines and cannon-shot, as well as fire on enemy crew when they get close enough. More men on deck to repel boarders, fire broadsides, and make gunpowder-runs would also be useful.

    It’s a fun game even with few players, but saturday should be quite amazing.

  21. Stromko says:

    Something to be considered though, the PCGamer crew might want to increase the round time on their server. 10 or 15 minutes is a bit short.

    It doesn’t ruin things, it gives plenty of time for multiple, separate fights, but the end-of-round timer interrupts crucial moments rather regularly.

    I think it’d be wise for folks to install UT2K4 post-haste if they’re ever going to do it. Perhaps next week there’ll be Alien Swarm or some other wonderful UT2K4 mod.

  22. SightseeMC says:

    Fucking ludo…craft.

  23. Polysynchronicity says:

    I’m tempted to get 2k4 for this.

    What else is there in the way of 2k4 stuff that still gets played these days? I’m sure there’s kids in their mum’s basement playing the vanilla game, but that’s not exactly what I’m after.

  24. Empyreal says:

    Does anyone know the IP address of the PCGamer server? My server browser appears to be broken.

  25. Jayteh says:

    Ah, its a mod of a game I lost years ago… damn

  26. idmmao says:

    Empyreal: You’re running UT2004 in AirBuccaneers mode, yes? The switch is under community -> user mods.
    In any case, it’s 85.236.100.18:8077

  27. Homunculus says:

    I made a video of last night’s shenanigans.

  28. Homunculus says:

    So good, it was worth mentioning twice. Hem hem.

  29. l1ddl3monkey says:

    I was really enjoying it right up until the point that my internet connection packed up, which it has been doing intermittently since a big storm on Monday night.

    Prior to that I winned a pilot award and got to stab a geezer or two (and shoot Dave who tried to out-bunnyhop me; not happening), so I’m relatively happy.

    Definitely be up for some more on Saturday!

    Oh – to those of you who do not have it: Play are selling the unreal anthology for £5.99

  30. Crane says:

    The IP is: 85.236.100.18:8077

    Right click in the empty space where servers should appear to find the “Join IP” option.

  31. H says:

    Okay, playing next time around!

  32. DMJ says:

    I think someone lifted this mod right out of one of my more hallucinatory dreams. Now where’s that UT2004 disc…?

  33. Catastrophe says:

    I was meant to play this but totally forgot! Damn!

  34. Catastrophe says:

    Oh and it kinda reminds me of Project Nomads.

  35. Hermit says:

    2K4 reinstall time, I think. Between this, Call of Cthulhu and the urge to replay Morrowind, it’s like time travel.

  36. Jim Rossignol says:

    It’s better than Project Nomads – you at least have some control over the balloons.

  37. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Yes, this was good fun but I really need to ‘READ THE F’ING MANUAL’ before playing again. Great atmosphere and unique slow, slow, QUICK!!!! gameplay. It pretty-much requires teamwork. And you get put in prison for TKing even if it was accidental (yr’onner).

  38. Jim Rossignol says:

    I think you only get imprisoned if the killed person chooses “punish”.

  39. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Yes, I was punished. I was trying to load a gunpowder sack into a canon and it blew a shipmate’s head off. Prison – for that!

  40. Thingus says:

    IIRC, you can survive a fall onto neutral land, if you just KEEP JUMPING! The mushrooms just miss you, if you’re lucky.
    Fall into water, and you’re dead, though.
    Ayway, I’ll probably be there on Saturday, if I can get the mod installed on time.

  41. Jim Rossignol says:

    Yes, I got back to the base without dying, you just can’t hang around.

  42. ...hmm... says:

    reminds me of some other mods and stuff:

    http://www.moddb.com/mods/airborn

    http://www.moddb.com/games/aero-empire

    but less pretty :p

  43. CakeAddict says:

    Shame I missed it seems like fun, I’ll see if I can find my copy of UT2004 hopefully it’s not buried under a mountain of boxes (I just moved) since it’s one of my less played games.

    And I’ll have to find out what 7pm UK time is in my country.

  44. Scott says:

    Can I nominate Clone Bandits for the next revival?

  45. LionsPhil says:

    Yay, Air Buccaneers! Defence musketman SeaLionsPhil ready to board, cap’n.

    (Also: yay, Clone Bandits!)

  46. LionsPhil says:

    (Oh, editing’s gone walkies again.)

    Also: yay, Alien Swarm! I’d vote for that above Clone Bandits if RPS/PCG are going on a spree of awesome UT2004 mods. Although the lower player count might be a bit of a pain.

  47. MarvintheParanoidAndroid says:

    Oh wow, I can’t believe I missed this. Will try to get it downloaded and installed in time for next time. Also Clone Bandits gets my vote for awesomeness as well.

  48. Arca says:

    Seconding those yays for Alien Swarm. Unfortunately it’s best suited to ~4-6 players per team, and there are not that many servers around. I did play Clone Bandits at one point, but not very much.

    Hmmm. Anyone know any other good ones? I mean, KF moved up to commercial & Source so that’s probably out…

  49. Davee says:

    I had incredibly fun last night. I mean, how can’t you have fun when you get promoted to “Ravencommander” and “Airfleet Lord” (or whatever that last one was called)? Also, my name now appars in the Book of Legends as the captain who has participated in 11 battles, downing 17 mighty enemy ships!

    I can’t wait until Saturday – even more people will be showing up! Maby we can even get a full server?

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